Sunday, 5 June 2011

English as it should be writ (Part 4)

The headline Civil service to get half-month payment in July (28th May 2011) refers.

This headline was accompanied by what looked like senior civil servants smiling, which mystified me.

Why would these civil servants be smiling when they are only going to get a half-month pay instead of the full month?

Reading further I realized that the headline writer meant these civil servants were going to get a half-month "bonus".

A "payment" is just reward (or punishment).

A "bonus" (Latin root "bon" = good) is an additional payment usually due to good performance.

As a taxpayer you might well ask what have these civil servants done to deserve a bonus, almost immediately after a general election. (Answer: it was not the peformance of the civil servants that was deemed good, but that of the economy.)

When so many aspects of our daily life are going wrong, eg:
  • dead body in water tank (not properly regulated by government department?)
  • flooding (we can't stop the rain, but at least the relevant departments could ensure safety)
  • boy lost to flood (when safety barriers were not put in place)
  • overcrowding in buses and other public transport (not getting the estimates right)
  • schools not producing the type of graduands required by employers (poor forecasting and understanding of economic and industry needs)
  • foreign maid left with brain damage because of some illogical government policy, etc.,
is it legitimate to ask why these civil servants should be getting a bonus at all?

I have friends in the civil service who are doing a great job, I'm sure, so forgive me for even thinking this: maybe a real dose of "half-month payment", especially for those at the top, could be the spur that we taxpayers should put in the you-know-where of the ministers and those who should be leading the charge in making the life of Singaporeans (and their guests) that little better.

Those who agree, please put your hand up kee chiew.

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